The fate of the Chief Justice Martha Koome hangs in the balance after a petition was filed before the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) seeking her removal from office.
However, the CJ enjoys the security of tenure.
The petitioner, Michael Kojo Otieno, claims that the Chief Justice failed to follow the law in appointing members of the tax appeal tribunal.
“While appointing persons to serve at the tax appeal tribunal, the judge failed to be honest in the execution of powers conferred to her by the Tax Appeal Tribunal Act based on powers conferred to the judge as a judicial officer.” The petition reads in part.
Kojo argues that the CJ was not transparent and diligent, adding that she discriminated against persons who had applied to be members of the board.
“The actions of the chief justice in appointing members more than the stipulated requirement violated section 4b of the Tax Appeal Tribunal Act.” Kojo says.
He argues that for the above reasons/arguments, the chief justice is unfit to hold office and should be removed from office.
“The actions of the chief justice in the appointment of the tax appeal tribunal are indeed illegal, null and void and hence unfit to hold public office.” The petition adds.
The Judiciary has been on a warpath with the Executive arm of government with president William Ruto leading a sustained attack on judicial officers alleging scheme to derail government agenda through collusion between political detractors and corrupt judicial officers.
Last week, Court of Appeal sustained High Court ruling which found the housing levy by the government illegal
Court of Appeal judges Lydia Achode, John Mativo and Mwaniki Gachoka ruled that public interest tilted in favour of not suspending the High Court decision.
National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang’ula has since moved to the Supreme Court to challenge the decision.
In the notice, Wetang’ula said he was dissatisfied with the decision of three judges of the Court of Appeal, declining to allow the government to continue collecting the levy.
The High Court had found stated that the levy was introduced without a legal framework and it was discriminatory for targeting a section of Kenyans.
The government and National Assembly moved to the appellate court, seeking to suspend the decision, pending its appeal but the application was declined. “In our view, public interest lies in awaiting the determination of the appeal,” the Appellate court judges said.
“Take notice that the National Assembly and the Speaker of the National Assembly, the 1st and 2nd applicants in Nairobi Court of Appeal Civil Application No. E577 of 2023, being dissatisfied with the decision of the Court of Appeal, delivered at Nairobi 26th January 2024, intend to appeal to the Supreme Court of Kenya against the whole of the said ruling.” The notice to the apex court reads in part.
While declining to allow the government to continue collecting the levy, pending the determination of the appeal, the judges said should the bench hearing the appeal upheld the decision nullifying the levy, then all actions that will have been undertaken under the challenged sections of the law during the “intervening period will be legally frail”.
“Public interest in our view tilts favour of in not granting the stay or the suspension sought. Public interest tilts in favour awaiting the determination of the issues raised in the intended appeals.” The judges ruled.